Separate Chrome instances for different gmail accounts

Let’s face it, these days, having more than one email account seems to be the norm. At minimum, you have a personal email account and a work email account. Chances are that more than one of those accounts is on the Google gmail and / or apps platform. Furthermore, you use the same computer to access all of these accounts. Sounds familiar? So how do you access these accounts without having to log in / out of the profile in the browser?

Google actually attempts to solve this problem by allowing you to have more than one profile in the same browser and you can easily switch contexts. This solution works most of the time.  Where it stops working, at least for me, is when I want to switch between browser windows and have each one be open to a different email account (particularly useful in a dual monitor environment).  In this case, the solution is to use two different browsers.  By having one browser (Chrome) and another browser (Firefox) logged into different accounts, I’m able to easily switch between email accounts and profiles.

So far so good.

Today I ran into a scenario where I actually needed to have two separate instances of Chrome, one for each email account.  Reason being, that one of the plugins that I use for gmail, is only available for the Chrome browser.  Thankfully, there is a way to run another instance of Chrome with a completely different profile, logged in at the same time.  These are the steps.

  1. Create a desktop shortcut to the Chrome executable or copy the existing shortcut.
  2. Right click on the shortcut and select “Properties”
  3. Add this parameter at the end of the “chrome.exe” application call: –user-data-dir=c:\[profile dir]\[new profile name]
  4. [profile dir] is any directory where you want to store the new profile, for example “c:\chrome”.  [new profile name] is the name of the new directory where you want to sore the new profile.  For example: “c:\chrome\mycompanyname”.
  5. Save the updated short cut.
  6. Run Chrome using the updated short cut and voila, you can now have two instances of Chrome running with two distinct profiles. I also renamed the shortcut to correspond to the specific profile which it was used for.

Giving credit where credit is due, this article was the basis for the instructions in this blog entry.

Posted in email, messaging Tagged with: , , ,

Get an extra 2GB for Google Drive and check your security

I like Google Drive and have been using it since its inception.  I use it both personally and professionally.  Let me start by saying that this is not an article about which cloud storage service is better, frankly, I’m agnostic when it comes to this stuff and use most major brands for one reason or another.

In celebration of “Safer Internet Day” 2015 and considering all of the recent (and on-going hacks), Google has come out and made it easy and rewarding for you to check your personal security settings and get 2GB of space for Drive (only personal accounts).  This push by Google relates to an article I wrote a while back about 2 factor authentication and importance of security your data.

Note: You must complete this by February 17, 2015.  Google states that the additional 2GB will show up by Feb. 28.

I’m keeping it short and helpful this time.  There are 2 links you should check out:

Google’s blog post about this promotion and

Your Google Security Settings page

Enjoy!

Posted in cloud, cloud storage, email, security Tagged with: , , ,

The importance of building trust

trust spiral cubes towerOver the past few weeks I’ve had some interesting discussions about the value of client relationships. In particular as it relates to the service industry. Let me start by saying that I work hard and put in the time to earn the trust of my customers and those that refer business to me. So what’s puzzling to me is that without fail, when speaking to business owners and decision makers, I frequently hear:

“We just switched providers because we weren’t happy with…”

When I dig into this a bit more, I find out the gory details, everything from “they weren’t giving us the attention we needed” or “they’ve grown too big to handle our account” to “the work they did for us was sub-par”. As you can imagine, the complaints vary greatly.

The point is, considering the effort required to win the trust of a partner or relationship, why would you screw it up? No matter how small or large the project is, if you decide to take it on, commit to getting it done with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. If for some reason you can’t get it done, don’t take it on, be upfront and honest about it. That’s how you build trust.

I recently made a professional referral and was surprised at their response, declining the project. Looking back on it, I am thankful that they opted not to pursue the business and potentially not delivering. This would have made me look bad and I would never refer business to them again. By politely declining and explaining why, they increased my faith in the relationship and I will continue referring business to them.

On the flip side, there are scenarios where firing the client is the only option. Personally, I haven’t fired a client, yet, but I know a service provider who has. After some analysis, they realized that 25% of their clients were taking over 80% of their time without a proportionate financial reward. They opted to terminate some of these clients, even at the risk of tarnishing their reputation, I applaud their bold move.

At the end of the day, and the reason for this article, is that I am personally committed to doing the best that I can by my clients and relationships, building on the trust they’ve put in me and using that to grow my business.  I view my clients and relationships as long term and key components of my growth strategy.

I’d love some feedback and to hear your thoughts on this subject matter. Hit me up on twitter or post a comment.

About Berkner Consulting

Berkner Consulting provides C-suite Information Technology driven management consulting services. Our focus is to add value to the existing organization by providing an unbiased and honest perspective on existing and future technologies, processes and products.

About Ilan Berkner

Posted in Uncategorized

Is the surface pro 3 really a laptop replacement?

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Banner

Microsoft Surface Pro 3I’ve been meaning to write about my experience with the Surface Pro 3 from Microsoft for some time.  I purchased the Surface Pro 3 in August, 2014, just about 4 months ago.  The device has become my defacto mobile laptop and I pretty much take it everywhere I go.

Before getting into some of the technical features and what I like and don’t like about it, I can say that without fail, everyone who sees it loves it.   Some of the comments and feedback I get, many times from complete strangers are “oh wow, that’s the surface”, “how do you like it?”, “is it a laptop?”, “that’s awesome, I’ve been thinking of getting one”.  If Microsoft intended for this device to be a crowd pleaser and head turner, mission accomplished.

Perhaps this attention and curiosity is due to everyone’s familiarity with Apple’s ubiquitous iPad platform and the Surface looks like a far removed and distant cousin? I’m not sure.  What I am certain about, my decision to purchase it, was a good one.

Let’s get some technical details out of the way. The Surface Pro 3 comes in several processor, memory and storage configurations. I opted to get the i5 with the standard 4GB memory option and standard 128GB SSD harddrive. Here are my reasons for this configuration.

I didn’t want to go with the lowest end i3 processor and I didn’t see a need for the i7 as I don’t do anything which requires the additional processing power. I opted for the standard 4GB instead of upgrading as I don’t do RAM heavy things, such as video editing.  As for storage, with both the OS and MS Office applications installed I had plenty of space left.

Surface Pro 3 PortsThere’s also a USB port to which you can connect external storage devices. Everything I do is stored in a cloud, so besides apps, local storage is not that important. 4 months later I have over 50% of my local storage left and don’t expect it to grow much more in the next few years.

And here’s another really great feature, the ports.  In addition to the USB port mentioned above, you also get a display port, a built in SD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack.  At one point or another, I have used all of the ports and was thankful that they were built in and readily available.

When choosing your configuration, keep in mind that you can’t upgrade the device so it is important to choose what works for you with consideration for future use cases.

Now onto the keyboard. Let me make it clear, if you’re buying the Surface, to not buy the keyboard would be like buying a car without wheels. Yes, you can use the device without the keyboard but if you’re planning on doing anything meaningful with it, like email, do yourself a favor and get the keyboard.

The pen comes with the keyboard. Personally, I think that the pen has its uses. From taking notes in a meeting to using it with OneNote and that’s the crux of it. The pen pretty much only works with OneNote. If you’re committed to usine OneNote, the pen may really appeal to you. I made a significant attempt to use the pen but have found it not as practical as I’d like it to be or as Microsoft would like you to believe.

Microsoft provides you with a sticky pen holder (a loop like contraption) which can be attached anywhere to the keyboard. The stickiness lasted about 3 months. I’m not sure there’s a better way to store the pen, you just have to make sure it doesn’t get lost after the glue wears off.  As I no longer use the pen on a regular basis, this is not an issue for me at this time. Microsoft does sell a replacement sticky loop for around $5, but considering the cost of the device and the keyboard (its not cheap), I would have hoped for a slightly better solution.

I have to say that the keyboard itself is exceptionally easy to use. Considering the size of the keyboard the keys are generously large and have a nice feel to them. I have used the keyboard for many hours and am very happy with it.

The built in mousepad is also not bad. I can’t say its the best, but it works and is responsive. The mousepad has a nice click to it as well and I find that I don’t usually need an external mouse unless I’m stationary with it for an extended period of time.

The screen is exceptional. The resolution is outstanding and the touch responsiveness works really well. The challenge with the screen and for that matter any device this size is that it is physically small. Regardless, I have found that I can comfortably work on it for an entire day without any issue beyond the usual eye strain.

Surface Pro 3 KickstandNext, the kickstand. This is just brilliant. The fact that i don’t need to buy a case with a stand and it just works is awesome. The best part of the kickstand is that it can be freely positioned. This means that you can just as easily use it on a table or lay it at an angle to write or draw or comfortably position it on your legs while reclining or sitting on the couch. Brilliant.

In terms of weight, the Surface Pro 3 is just under 2 pounds (~1.76 pnds).  One of the key factors I was looking for in a mobile laptop replacement device was its weight.  I didn’t want to continue lugging around a 3 to 5 pound device in addition to all of the other stuff I’ve got in my bag.  The device and the keyboard, when snapped up, is very comfortable to carry around and just light enough that I know longer feel like I can use it for strength training.  I’ve actually gotten to the point where the only thing I carry is the Surface (i.e. no bag).

Having a full fledged Windows 8.1 device in a tablet form is fantastic.  I’m often asked “is it a tablet?”, my response tends to be “it can be, but its actually a regular Windows computer”.  This means that all of the software that you’re used to, whether you’re a Microsoft Office user or a software developer, runs and loads as you’d expect.  I’ve had no (read zero) problems with the system running everything from Microsoft Office to Photoshop and beyond.

There are a few kinks in the armor for me personally.  The device does get hot from time to time, especially after extended uses.  This is not unexpected as the processor and configuration is just like a regular computer, including a fan which comes on when things are hot.  The combination of the heat and fan are not show stoppers in terms of usability or holding it, its just important to note that it does happen.  I imagine that with the faster processor, the i7, this may be more of an issue than with the i3 and i5.

All around, I’m very happy with the Surface Pro 3 and would recommend it to anyone who needs a light, full fledged laptop to carry around.  From a price point, its not cheap.  Considering that you can get Chrombooks and now even Windows laptops for between $150 and $500, at $899 and above, this device is not for everyone’s pocket book.

If you have any questions about this review or my experience with it, feel free to reach out to me via twitter @iberkner.

Berkner Consulting provides C-suite Information Technology driven management consulting services.  Our focus is to add value to the existing organization by providing an unbiased and honest perspective on existing and future technologies, processes and products.  Contact us to learn more.

Posted in review Tagged with: , ,

The Email Undo Feature of Gmail and Google Apps

Gmail Undo Email Option

A few years ago I came across a neat little feature, hidden away in the bowls of Google’s Gmail settings, in the lab / experimental section.  This is the section which has all kinds of really neat – some useful, some not useful – gadgets and gizmos which Google experiments with from time to time.  Some of these experiments breakout to become mainstream functions and settings, while others, remain in the labs section for an indeterminate amount of time.

The Email Undo function is one such option.  In order to access this option, you have to first enable it in the Labs section after going into your Gmail settings.

Gmail Labs Undo Function

After the option is enabled, you’ll have the ability to change the amount of time the Undo feature is available to you in the General Settings section.  See the image below.

Gmail Labs Undo Function Settings

There are some very good reasons why I find this feature so very useful and important, my personal favorites are listed below, you may have others.

  • Sending an email without an attachment – I did that today and used this feature to undo the send, attach the document and resend.  This is what prompted me to write this little blog posting.
  • Sending an email to the wrong people – How often have we pressed “Reply All”, only to regret it a second later?

Google actually has a nice “how to” page explaining exactly how to activate this feature.  Click here to go there and check it out for yourself.

Posted in email Tagged with: , ,

Hour of Code at Dillard Elementary

Dillard Elementary - Broward County

Ilan Berkner in front of classroomI’ve been working in the EdTech space for just about a decade, specifically, the K12 market.  Most of that time was spent behind the desk, building software.  The closest I ever got to working with kids using these platforms, was in resolving complex technical issues that teachers or system administrators were having in accessing our products in the classroom.  Occasionally, I would get a direct letter or note from a teacher, or the entire classroom, thanking me, I always appreciated these notes and was grateful that I was able to assist.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to get involved with one of those very special and unique projects that is a true collaboration between the local business community and the school system: RangerGoodWorks.org.  The brain child of Victoria Ranger, the organization creates a direct link and viable partnership between the business community and in this case, one particular school, Dillard Elementary of Broward county.  The school, Ilan Berkner and Principal Angela Brownled by principal Angela Brown (seen in the picture to the left), has been transformed into a place where volunteers such as myself, truly get to give back, its not just about the money that’s raised, yes that matters, but also our time, as technology professionals where I think the collaboration truly comes to life.

Today, during the hour of code national event, we got to work in the classroom, directly with the kids.  Teams from Time4Learning.com, Citrix.com, RangerTech.com, Nova Southeastern University and other local volunteers engaged in the classroom for about an hour.  This is a golden opportunity for us to work with these amazing kids and get them excited about science, technology and discovery.  I was humbled by their enthusiasm, desire to learn and excitement of doing something new.

I look forward to continue working with the school, the kids and the organizations that support it.

About Berkner Consulting

Berkner Consulting provides C-suite Information Technology driven management consulting services.  Our focus is to add value to the existing organization by providing an unbiased and honest perspective on existing and future technologies, processes and products.  Contact us to learn more.

Posted in edtech, education, k12 Tagged with:

Berkner Consulting Awarded USBR Contract

Palm Beach Gardens, FL – September 18, 2014 – Berkner Consulting is happy to announce that it was awarded a federal contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, Boise Idaho for the development of a mobile irrigation scheduling application.  Specifically, the award is for building an iOS application to compliment the existing web based irrigation scheduler application.

“Our team is excited to have received this award and we are ready to get started on it.  We are looking forward to building a long term relationship with the USBR and assisting them with this project.” said Ilan Berkner, founder of Berkner Consulting.

Berkner Consulting provides C-suite Information Technology driven management consulting services.  Our focus is to add value to the existing organization by providing an unbiased and honest perspective on existing and future technologies, processes and products.  For additional information about how we can help your organization with its technology projects, please contact us.

Posted in government, mobile apps Tagged with: , ,

Bitcoin Panel at the South Florida Interactive Marketers Association

A few months back I was asked by SFIMA board members to put together a Bitcoin panel for one of their upcoming monthly events, either in August or September. I’m excited to announce that the panelists have been selected, the date has been set – August 14th – and am honored to have been chosen as the moderator of this event.

Please take this opportunity to learn more about this event and I hope that you’ll consider attending.

Leveraging Bitcoin to Increase Marketing Opportunities

Leveraging Bitcoin to Increase Marketing Opportunities

The panel will cover basic Bitcoin concepts, legal and regulatory topics, marketing challenges and the future of Bitcoin. Key points are outlined below:

  • Bitcoin marketing advantages
  • Legal and tax implications
  • Merchant services
  • Fee structures
  • Real world examples
  • Challenges in accepting Bitcoin
  • The future of Bitcoin

Please reach out to me if you have any questions and consider attending either the monthly West Palm Beach Bitcoin meetup or the weekly Fort Lauderdale Bitcoin meetup.

Posted in BitCoin, Cryptocurrency, meetup Tagged with: , , ,

Two Factor Authentication to Improve Your Online Security

For years we’ve gotten accustomed to the numerous websites and services that require a login and password.  The trouble is that many of us end up using the same password for most (if not all) of these services.  In most cases, the password that we use, is not what is considered a strong one, i.e. one that is easily guessed through brute force attacks.

Companies that were particular concerned about their work force accessing systems remotely enhanced their security by requiring two factor authentication, but what is two factor authentication and why should the average user care?

Two factor authentication adds another level of security to accessing a given account.  In addition to the needed user id and password, an additional code is required.  This code usually changes every so many seconds and can’t be “guessed” through traditional brute force methods.  The code is usually provided by a key sized device who’s only function is to display a continuously changing number pattern which is required – in addition to the password – to access the account.

The trouble with two factor authentication is that up to now, each system required its own special key device, this is note user friendly at all, imaging walking around with 20 or more of these things.  Enter the smart phone.

Today, there’s a better way.  Some providers are allowing users to enhance security through two factor authentication using an app that is installed on their smartphone.  In most cases, the app itself, can be used by many providers at once, meaning, you don’t need a separate app for each of these accounts.

In particular, this is enormously beneficial to prevent email hacking.  If you use a service such as gmail.com for example, Google now offers 2 factor authentication.  Microsoft has also added this option to its email services.

There are several apps that provide the code needed by the service providers, one such example is authy.com.  Which app you end up using, will be determined by the service provider you are connecting to.

Where possible, there is no reason not use this option, whether for protecting your email or your bank account.

Posted in email, security

The trouble with reply all

I remember a time when sending or receiving an email required the user to push a button in their email client or wait for the scheduled email check to run.   There is an inherit benefit to this old school methodology, you get the opportunity to prevent that “bad” email from going out.

Case in point.  Today I got a response to an email I had sent to two people.  The response was meant for the other person, oops.  There’s also the occasional message retraction request which unless you’re running on the same system, is utterly useless.

In my mind, both of these points highlight the speed by which we tend to communicate these days.  Sending an email, without necessarily looking at the details give way to our need for speed.  I’m not suggesting that we change how we work, but there are some options which can help us reduce these kinds of mistakes.  These options will vary, depending on the email system you use.  Personally, I use Google’s Gmail system which offers two options in its settings section.

google send settings for replying to messages

This image shows the Gmail settings associated with replying to a message.

The first setting is the “Default reply behavior” option.  This can be set to either “Reply” or “Reply All”.  Personally, I strongly recommend that you keep it as “Reply”.  You can always choose the “Reply All” option when sending the message out.

The second setting is the “Undo Send” option.  This is a really neat feature which will put an “undo” link at the top of your Gmail inbox after sending a message.  The undo link will be available for however many seconds you set it for.  For me personally, 10 seconds works well.

So there you have it.  Two helpful options for reducing mistakes when sending out an email message.

 

Posted in messaging Tagged with: ,